Events to mark 50 years of cityhood

By Mike Barrington

City Mayor Sheryl Mai is getting set for celebrations as Whangarei became a city 50 years ago tomorrow. Photo/John Stone
City Mayor Sheryl Mai is getting set for celebrations as Whangarei became a city 50 years ago tomorrow. Photo/John Stone

Whangarei became a city 50 years ago and a special ceremony will be held in the Whangarei District Council (WDC) chambers tomorrow to mark the golden anniversary.

Major celebrations to mark the half-century are being planned for November, when in 1964 the new Whangarei City Council began a year of community events.

Whangarei borough was declared a city on May 21, 1964, a month before the Beatles came to our shores.

It was a different era with the Northern Advocate advertising a four-bedroom home in the Avenues selling for 3100 ($6200), Friesian heifers bringing 30-38 ($60-$76) at the Kauri saleyards, a new Ford Falcon station wagon cost 1150 ($2300) and the Marsden Pt oil refinery was just starting up.

Raymond Keefe was born at Whangarei Hospital on May 21 in 1964 and was credited with tipping the borough population past 20,000 into city status.

He became known as the Whangarei City baby and is now living in Australia.

WDC officials are hoping the first baby born at Whangarei Hospital tomorrow will become the Whangarei Golden Anniversary baby.

An intense week of City Celebrations, including parades, flower shows, balls and even a Miss Whangarei City competition, in May 1964 was followed in November by a year of 60 commemorative events tournaments, carnivals, exhibitions and shows which the WDC hopes to match with its 50th anniversary celebrations in November.

WDC mayoral communication officer Sue Halliwell is appealing for residents with memorabilia and photographs of the 1964 events to loan them to the council for a commemorative display.

Wed also be keen to hear from any resident who shares a 50th birthday with the city, and would appreciate ideas for community events or, as Mayor Jack Johnson stated in 1964: Projects ... which would perpetuate the event and be of an everlasting nature.

Email the memorabilia and photographs to the council at or post them to the Whangarei District Council, Private Bag 9023, Whangarei 0148.

Mayor Sheryl Mai will mark the golden anniversary with karakia and a cake-cutting ceremony in the council chambers at Forum North tomorrow.

The Canopy Bridge and Te Matau a Pohe will be lit up in gold for a week.

- Northern Advocate

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